Mozilla is starting a new initiative that the company says is designed to incorporate more privacy enhancing features into Firefox and the other Mozilla products.
The project, known as Polaris, involves collaboration with The Tor Project and the Center for Democracy and Technology and will involve Mozilla running a group of high-speed Tor relays, as well.
Privacy has become a major issue for users across the spectrum, not just the security conscious or paranoid. Consumers now are seeking out privacy enhancing tools and shunning those that infringe on their expectations of online privacy. The NSA revelations of the last 18 months also have helped make privacy a key concern for enterprises and their customers.
Polaris is trying to address that privacy concern among users in a variety of ways. The first tangible piece of the project is the collaboration with the Tor Project. Tor historically has been used by a variety of groups, but mainly it has been popular among activists, journalists and those in the security and privacy communities. Its popularity has grown significantly in the last year or so The network is designed to allow users to browse the Web anonymously and privately, but it can be slow, especially on less-than-ideal network infrastructures. Mozilla’s move to operate a set of high-speed Tor relays will help address that problem and make the network more usable.
“The second experiment (which is our first in-product Polaris experiment) seeks to understand how we can offer a feature that protects those users that want to be free from invasive tracking without penalizing advertisers and content sites that respect a user’s preferences. We’re currently testing this privacy tool in our “Nightly” channel. The experiment is promising, but it’s not a full-fledged feature yet. We’ll test and refine the user experience and platform behavior over the coming months and collect feedback from all sides before this is added to our general release versions,” Dixon-Thayer said.